Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic led the men in the short program by 0.26 points. Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi and USA’s Stephen Carriere placed second and third, respectively.
Verner earned a new personal best of 78.15 (42.00/36.15) points for his strong routine to music by Django Reinhardt.
The 2007 European silver medalist landed a solid triple Axel and triple Lutz, but was penalized on a triple flip (in combination with a triple toeloop) for using the wrong take-off edge. He otherwise produced two good level four footwork sequences, both of which received a Grade of Execution (GoE) of +1.20, and two of his spins were also awarded a level four.
The 21-year-old was happy with his performance, but was hesitant to say too much as it might jinx his free skate.
“I gave many interviews in Paris (Trophée Bompard) and then I didn’t skate well,” Verner explained, adding that he wanted to put that event behind him.
Takahashi is in a very close second with 77.89 (39.64/38.25) points.
The 2007 Skate America champion landed a solid triple flip-triple toeloop combination and triple Lutz, but stumbled on the landing of a triple Axel. He also delivered a very good level three circular and straightline footwork sequence, which were both awarded a positive G0E of +0.90.
“I made an error on my triple Axel and on my spin, but the audience was behind me and my step sequence was better than at Skate America,” noted Takahashi. “There it was only a level one, now it was a level three. I didn’t change it, but I had more training. It was cleaner, had more edges.”
Carriere opted to get his level three circular footwork out of the way before producing a triple Axel in his Stairway to Heaven routine. The 2007 World Junior champion also produced a triple flip-double toeloop combination, as well as three level four spins, but he stepped out of his triple Lutz.
Despite the mistake, Carriere earned a new personal best of 67.85 (35.40/32.45) points.
“Today was a bit bittersweet, said Carriere. “The performance wasn’t what I wanted. I was a bit hesitant in some elements. I am really happy that I got a lot of (high) levels on my other elements. For tomorrow, I will definitely put everything aside and go all out.”
The 18-year-old was injured in practice on Wednesday after falling on a double Axel.
“The heel of my left skate went into the toe of my right foot,” explained Carriere. It went down and cut in between one of my toes. I had to get a couple of stitches. The cut is deep, but not really deep to severe any tendons. I am really thankful for that. It was kind of scary.”
Yasuharu Nanri of Japan is right on Carrier’s heels with his own personal best of 67.55 (38.70/28.85) points for his Moonlight Sonata routine.
The Japanese bronze medalist, who didn’t fare well at Skate America, landed a triple Axel, a triple flip-triple toeloop, and a triple Lutz. He also was awarded a level four on all three of his spins, but his final combination spin received a -0.36 GoE.
Sergei Davydov of Belarus landed a solid triple Axel in the opening of his routine to music from the Schindler’s List soundtrack, but struggled with the landing of his second jump in a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. The two-time Olympian was also penalized for using the wrong take-off edge on his triple flip. He is currently in fifth place with 66.25 (34.80/34.80) points.
Russia’s Sergei Dobrin landed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination and a triple flip, but stepped out of the landing on a triple Axel. He sits in sixth place with 66.14 (35.44/30.70) points.
Kensuke Nakaniwa of Japan is in seventh place (63.70 points), followed by China’s Chengjiang Li (63.56 points).